Sat04192014

Sports

It’s official: Grizz back in playoffs

The Memphis Grizzlies landed a victory on Wednesday (April 18) defeating the Hornets 103 to 91 in a home-turf victory that clinched a playoff berth.

Call it a rematch at the FedExForum.

After last Saturday’s loss to the New Orleans Hornets in the Crescent City, the Memphis Grizzlies landed a victory on Wednesday (April 18) defeating the Hornets 103 to 91 in a home-turf victory that clinched a playoff berth.

 
 Defense-minded Tony Allen (9) and the Memphis Grizzlies rattled the New Orleans Hornets 103 to 91 at the FedExForum on Wednesday (April 18) night, clinching a return engagement with the NBA Playoffs. (Photos by Warren Roseborough)

 
 Grizz forward Zach Forward scored 10 points in Memphis’ playoff-clinching win over New Orleans.

And while the Grizzlies as a team are thrilled to be in the playoffs for the second straight season, Grizz star forward Rudy Gay is a first timer, missing last year’s playoffs with a season-ending injury.

“It feels good,” Gay said of the win. “Especially the fact that I had to sit back and watch it last year.  After six years in the league, this is my first playoff experience.”

Gay finished with 26 points and Grizz guard Mike Conley pitched in 20. O.J. Mayo finished with 15 points followed by Zach Randolph tipping in another 10.

Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins noted the difference that a year makes.

“We’re in a different position this year,” Hollins said.  “Last year we were at eight (in conference playoff position). This year, we have chance to get to three. We didn’t want to be a one and done kind of group.  We just wanted to make sure we got back.”

As for now, the Grizzlies are holding on to the fifth spot.

During this season, which is noted for its abbreviated nature (66 games instead of 82 because of the lockout), the Grizzlies have shown that regrouping is a necessary part of the recipe for success. They have:

• Found rhythm when the beat was out of sync;

• Learned new plays in a short amount of time;

• Lost Darrell Arthur for a full season;

• Played without Randolph for most of the season;

• Gained an All-Star player in Gilbert Arenas to help down the stretch;

• And missed their defensive superstar, Tony Allen, for four games after a facial laceration.

“At the beginning of the year when Zach got hurt, it was like we weren’t going to be here,” said Hollins. “The team rallied around itself, created a new identity, and achieved our goal we set out when we were fully healthy.

Opposing teams – and network commentators – know that the Grizzlies are a constant threat with a style branded grit-and-grind basketball.

It was the third quarter that sealed the deal and delivered the win against New Orleans.  The Grizzlies went on a 20-4 run early in the quarter and forced six turnovers, ending the Hornets’ four-game winning streak.

The Grizz have four more games remaining, ending with the regular season against the Orlando Magic.

 

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